This is a post I wrote last year.
I've always known that whole foods nutrition is important. I was raised on a very meticulous diet with healthy, organic foods, no HFCS, no crap, etc. My mom made most meals from scratch, made her own breads, forbade sodas and packaged treats from entering the house and tried her hardest to stay close to nature. My dad loves organic gardening and keeps fruit trees, too.
So sadly, I ask, what happened? Life, I guess. I took the good stuff for granted and after I left home, I gave it up with a lifestyle of working full time, starting a business, going to school and now knee deep in parenting...Well I sacrificed a lot in the food department.
Anyways, things have reached a level where I cannot tolerate the hypocrisy any longer. There are numerous abuses within the food industry that violate our human rights and our world, and also contradict my Catholic beliefs.
This year begins with my little family going on a radical change. With radical changes, I know that improvement remains steadfast with an audience and cheerleaders (accountability), so I figure I will post my experiences here.
A couple days ago, we watched Food, INC together. It wasn’t anything new to us per se, but it helped with our resolve to change. I look forward to watching InGREEDients when it comes out, too.
Yesterday I cleaned out the entire kitchen and went shopping.
Want to hear about my bread trip?
First I decided to go to Walfart. I know that Walfart is not the best company but we received a gift card there and the irony of buying healthy food from the company did not escape me. :-p
I began my trip in the bread aisle. I started from one end and reached the other end. I picked up every loaf of bread they had available. Some of the packages said things such as “HFCS free!” or “Whole Wheat!” but I was surprised to see other ingredients hidden in the list.
By the time I reached the end of the aisle, I had not found ONE loaf of bread that was HFCS, MSG free, made with whole wheat and free of other random scary ingredients.
I went to Target and did the same thing. Again, nothing.
I went to the grocery store and did the same thing. Nothing!
Finally, I ended up going to a small business bread shop and buying a loaf of bread for $5 because it had 5 readable ingredients in it. Hey, they even have a website:
Anyways, here are some of the ingredients I found in various breads while at the store:
Aspartame. This sugar substitute seems to be a huge thorn in our sides. It is in just about every product claiming to be “sugar free” or “reduced sugar.” (Something I did not know, Monsanto had a hand in pushing Aspartame). This article gives a very thorough and easy to understand history of Aspartame:
Azodicarbonamide. It’s a yellow to orange-red crystalline powdered chemical, C2H4O2N4. Its use in food products is banned in most parts of Europe/UK and in Singapore you can enjoy a hefty $450,000 fine if caught using it. The FDA allows it b/c there is currently no research on it. For more information on this ingredient, read this compilation here:
Enriched wheat. This was the first ingredient for almost EVERY bread I looked at, even ones like Pepperidge Farm who advertised whole wheat. (The whole wheat ingredient was #10 on the list for Pepperidge Farm). Enriched wheat means it’s been stripped entirely of any nutritious substance. It’s done to lengthen shelf life and make the texture more appealing. They then add chemical nutrients back to the food.
MSG (Monosodium Glutamate). Actually, even non-crunchy people are fairly aware of the dangers surrounding MSG. Even the Mayo Clinic admits that it can trigger headaches, stomach problems and other allergic reactions in some people. Unfortunately, too much MSG can lead to headaches, tightness in the chest, and a burning sensation in the forearms an the back of the neck. But that doesn’t resolve the fact that it happens to be in almost every food product available at the grocery store. MSG has many different names and forms; check out the second link to learn about them.
Olestra. It’s a fake fat recently approved by the FDA despite the objections of many scientists.
“The additive may be fat-free but it has a fatal side-effect: it attaches to valuable nutrients and flushes them out of the body. Some of these nutrients -- called carotenoids -- appear to protect us from such diseases as lung cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, and macular degeneration. The Harvard School of Public Health states that "the long-term consumption of olestra snack foods might therefore result in several thousand unnecessary deaths each year from lung and ,prostate cancers and heart disease, and hundreds of additional cases of blindness in the elderly due to macular degeneration. Besides contributing to disease, olestra causes diarrhea and other serious gastrointestinal problems, even at low doses."
FDA certified olestra despite the fact that there are safe low-fat snacks already on the market. There is no evidence to show that olestra will have any significant effect on reducing obesity in America.
Despite being approved as safe by the FDA, all snacks containing olestra must carry a warning label (similar to one found on cigarettes) that states:
This Product Contains Olestra. Olestra may cause abdominal cramping and loose stools. Olestra inhibits the absorption of some vitamins and other nutrients. Vitamins A, D, E, and K have been added.
CSPI advises consumers to avoid all olestra foods, and urges major food manufacturers not to make olestra-containing products.”
Potassium Bromate. “This additive has long been used to increase the volume of bread and to produce bread with a fine crumb (the non-crust part of bread) structure. Most bromate rapidly breaks down to form innocuous bromide. However, bromate itself causes cancer in animals. The tiny amounts of bromate that may remain in bread pose a small risk to consumers. Bromate has been banned virtually worldwide except in Japan and the United States. It is rarely used in California because a cancer warning is required on the label.”
Most breads are also "enriched" or "fortified" with synthetic vitamins, particularly folic acid. You can read why this is dangerous here:
s Although "Whole wheat" has gained a reputation as a healthy choice, and certainly enriched or white breads have their own issues, it appears that traditional cultures did not eat whole grains as is, but rather altered them to make them more digestible. Read about this important dietary aspect here: